About Us

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The AIDS crisis opened our eyes to the many ruthless illnesses that were challenging us to our very core. Though we came together week in and week out to compete at shows and trials, to participate in club activities, to share knowledge and common interests, we had inadequate resources in any one place to take care of those in our community who so clearly needed our help.

Take the Lead was founded in 1993 as a not-for-profit foundation under Section 501 (c)3 of the Internal Revenue Code dedicated to provide direct services, support and care for all qualified participants in the sport of dogs who suffer from the devastating realities of life-threatening or terminal illnesses.

The Evolution of TAKE the LEAD

So here’s what you need to know about take the lead…


We’ve been here to serve as a lifeline for the Fancy since 1993.


We originally began simply; to lend the level of support to those impacted by the aids epidemic.


The Pure Breed Dog Fancy, our grassroots community, are our main contributors and make all of this happen. Dog people helping our own. This has never changed!

Our Evolution


We soon realized we could do much more and expanded our mission to include assisting those with all life-threatening or terminal illnesses. These include (but are not limited to) cancer, heart disease, kidney disease, and more.


An endowment fund was established to ensure funds would always still be available to the Fancy far into the future.


In 2016, we once again reviewed and renewed our mission and added our ability to now provide temporary emergency assistance to those affected by disasters such as fires, floods, earthquakes and the like. This is accomplished through a separate and expedited application. (Both applications are available on our website).

Thanks to our donors such as you, we continue to be a lifeline for our friends.

A good time is had at our events, but we also remind everyone while we are having a good time, we are remembering those we have aided and have yet to help.

We wanted to be there for everyone. We wanted to make a difference. Our goals, as many pointed out to us at first, were never modest. Neither were our energies.

In September 1993, we held a benefit cocktail party during the Westchester weekend and gave contributors small lapel pins, emblazoned with our red leash logo. We were pleasantly surprised when we saw the pins on blazers and blouses the next day. We were overwhelmed with requests for more pins. Soon they were everywhere, East, South, Midwest, West, worn by exhibitors, handlers, judges, even first time spectators.

More events followed: at Westminster, at the International, at Del Valle, in Boston, Knoxville, Houston, and Portland. Each one was very successful. Take the Lead began an ambitious project to engage the AKC member clubs and the licensed clubs to support our fundraising efforts, and more importantly, to be our crucial link to guide us to those in need.

In 1994, we received our first applications for assistance and immediately began making distributions. We paid medical insurance premiums, transportation costs, funeral expenses, as well as a great variety of non-medical bills.

The last three years have been a time of incredible challenges and also incredible growth. As much as we would like to believe that our efforts can make miracles happen, they cannot. The money we raise and the assistance we provide cannot buy a single cure. But we take some real comfort in knowing we can make a difference in a person’s life.

From simple spaghetti suppers to exciting gala dinner dances, silent auctions to quilt raffles, clubs have found countless ways to raise funds for Take The Lead. Many clubs have graciously included a public service advertisement for Take the lead in their show catalogs; others have donated a portion of their entry fee. We are sincerely grateful.

At this point, it would be easy to pat ourselves on the back and step down quietly. Our commitment is deeper that that. We still have much to do.

Soon after we began, we decided that it was not enough simply to cover the immediate needs of our community. We wanted to insure that those in need would be protected and provided for. In 1995, we established a permanent restricted fund and determined that up to one half of each year’s net income would be placed in it. Already we have seen this seed investment become a substantial asset. It is our goal that one day the interest earned on this endowment will provide more than enough income to cover the expenses of everyone in our sport who qualifies for assistance.

We ask once again for your support. Your participation is valued and vital, not only to us as an organization, but to the entire community, and to the sport of dogs itself.

All contributions to Take the Lead are tax deductible to the full extent of the law.

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